Exam,ple Elven StructuresGood news, dear map-makers! We are happy to announce that starting in June 2021 (i.e. Now!) we are releasing regular free content for Campaign Cartographer 3+.

This is available as a separate download from your registration page (among the CC3+ downloads) and will be rolled into the full CC3+ setup and upgdates regularly.

We start out with a batch of symbols for elven places by Mike Schley, expanding his overland style. Show your ancient elven civilizations with cities, towns, villages, holy groves and castles in their deserved splendor! Download it now from your registration page now, the new symbols will be integrated into the Strcuture catalog of the Mike Schley Overland style.

While most CC3+ styles have a good selection of symbols, including multiple variations of the same symbols, such as multiple different trees, mountains, tables or statues, you can get into an issue of repetition if you need lots of these symbols.

One of the ways to alleviate this is to apply different scaling, rotation and mirroring to these symbols. Just a subtle change of scale or orientation helps reduce the monotony of a lot of the same symbols. This can of course be done manually, but CC3+ symbol catalogs contain a cool feature for helping with this, namely random transformations. Random transformations are a configurable way to automate this process on a symbol by symbol basis, ensuring that it makes sense for each symbol it is applied to. For example, it doesn’t make much sense to have a random rotation of a mountain in an overland map, that would probably look weird given the isometric view of these symbols in most styles, while a table in a tavern may benefit from free rotation. The same mountain may find use in random scaling to vary it that way instead.

You’ll find that many of the official symbol catalog already use this technique by default, but it is easy to set up yourself, either to apply it to your own custom symbols, or to existing symbols when using them.

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CA170 Jaw Peninsula EastThe second Annual issue of 2021 is a huge collection of symbols created by Sue Daniel: More than 300 ribbons, scrolls and seals to serves as titles, labels and other map ornamentation. Banners can be places at different widths, and parts can be combined to create multi-line scrolls and ribbons. The symbols can be used on an any map and the accompanying guide teaches you how to make the catalogs available in any style.

The February issue is now available for all subscribers from their registration page. If you haven’t subscribed to the Annual 2021 yet, you can do so here.

When using CC3+, you may have encountered symbols with behavior, like houses that aligns to and offsets from the wall and doors that align to, resizes themselves to match and cut holes in dungeon walls. These are what CC3+ calls smart symbols. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these symbols and we’ll have a look at how to make our own smart symbols. I’ll be using DD3 here, but this functionality is not restricted to DD3, and can be used in any kind of map CC3+ can produce.

Try it out

Before making our own smart symbols, to see the existing ones in use, try out how dungeon door reacts to differently sized walls. Start with a new small DD3 dungeon, draw a wall using the wall drawing tool (I recommend you right-click Default Wall and pick a nice looking one) at any angle. Then, make sure Snap (bottom right corner) is turned off and then pick any door from the Wall features catalog and hover the cursor over the wall. The door symbol should rotate to match the angle of the wall, and once you click, you’ll notice that it actually cuts the wall where it places the door. These are two of the features of smart symbols, aligning to existing entities and cutting lines.

This article is also available in a video version.

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In CC3+, each template is designed for a single style, which comes with it’s own symbols, fills and tools, while the resources belonging to other styles are not directly visible in the GUI.

This is intended behavior, because it puts the chosen style in focus. You know that all the elements you are being offered are designed to work with that style and fit with the visual design of the style. This behavior is both a blessing and a curse. Keeping the focus on the style is good. If you own everything, you’ll have about 40.000 different raster symbols (and a lot of vector symbols too, but I don’t have the count), you really don’t want to filter through all of these all the time when working on your map to find the ones matching your current map style, that’s just hugely impractical. But every now and then you want to be able to mix map styles, and you know of a couple of styles that work very well together. How can you easily access all the symbols from these styles?

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One of the features for CC3+ symbol catalogs is the ability to arrange these into groups, and then set this group to place random symbols from the group, or apply random transformations to them, like rotations or minor scaling to give variety to otherwise identical symbols.

But, what if you are making a particular map, and you need some other kind of grouping? For example, when placing trees you want to randomly place Decid, Pine and Jungle trees among each other? There are no predefined group like this in most symbol catalogs. Well, for that you can quite easily set up your own personal random collection just for the current map (or you can save it into a symbol catalog if you want it available later).

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Remy Monsen has published two new video tutorials on creating your own symbols in CC3+ on his own YouTube channel.

Symbols – Part 1: Finding and Preparing Images

Symbols – Part 2: Creating a Symbol Catalog

In my previous installment of this series, I talked about, among other things, composite symbols made up from multiple raster images. This is cool and all, but it raises one interesting question; what about effects? When you place a symbol, all parts of that symbol is grouped together into one entity, which lives on a single sheet.

If you make a symbol that contains a small cottage, with a tree and a few bushes outside, you’ll probably want different shadow lengths on each of these components. But, to do that, you need different sheets, right?

This is where multi-sheet symbols come in. Basically, a multi-sheet symbol is a symbol that gets split into multiple symbols when you place it, thereby putting each component of the symbol on the appropriate sheet. This may sound a bit like exploding a symbol, but with multi-sheet symbols, it is the designer of the symbol that decides which sheet each part should go on without any manual intervention from the symbol user.

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What is a symbol really?

One common way to look at symbols is to separate them into raster and vector symbols, where a raster symbol is a png image file on disk, while a vector symbol is built from regular CC3+ shapes. While there is truth in this, it is also an oversimplification.

If we look at things from the perspective of CC3+, there is no difference between these, it is just a symbol either way, and is treated exactly the same. And all of this becomes evident when we look at what a symbol really is.

If we go back in time, Campaign Cartographer didn’t have symbols at all (at least not as we know them today), it had parts. Put simply, a part is a CC drawing, which you can insert into another drawing. Being an actual drawing, it could contain everything a regular drawing could. It is from this concept of insertable parts that symbols arose. Just as with parts, a symbol is just an ordinary CC drawing that can contain (almost) all the features of a normal drawing. One of the main differences between symbols and parts is that one file can contain many symbols, allowing for the symbol catalogs we use today, while parts must be one file per part. (Also note that a symbol catalog file is just a standard map file with a different file extension, there is no difference in the file format at all.) You know the symbols that show up in the symbol catalog window if you click the Symbols in Map button? Those are the same symbols which would be available to other drawings if you loaded the current map up in the symbol catalog window while working on another map). Another big difference between symbols and parts is that when you use symbols, the symbol definition is stored exactly once in the drawing, and each placement of the symbol in the map just reference that definition, while when you insert a part, the entities in the part are simply being inserted into the drawing each time.

So, where am I going with this? Well, as you probably already know, in CC3+ you can use Draw –> Insert File to insert different things into your drawing, one of the possibilities being an image file in png format. Doing this simply inserts a picture entity into the drawing. A picture entity is one of the standard entities in CC3+, just like a line, a polygon or so on, the difference is obviously that it references an external image on disk. And this is exactly what a raster symbol is, it is a standard symbol that happen to include a picture entity. One interesting fact about how this is done is that you could insert images into your maps all the way back in CC2, so technically you could have raster symbols in CC2, even if it wasn’t officially added until CC3 (CC3 improved the functionality a lot though, such as support for transparency, the png format, variable resolution, varicolor and much more) Continue reading »

Accompanying CC3+ and it’s addons are a host of different symbols, all arranged neatly into symbol catalogs. These catalogs are arranged by map type, map style, and symbol theme/content. For example, there is one symbol catalog containing structure symbols from the Mike Schley Overland style, while a completely different symbol catalog contains furniture symbols from the standard DD3 dungeon style. Generally, these catalogs are arranged in such a way that clicking the various symbol catalog buttons (the toolbar right above your mapping area) loads different symbol catalogs relevant to the current map type and style. And if you need a symbol catalog from a different style, you can always click the Load Symbol Catalog button and browse for a different symbol catalog manually.

But did you know that CC3+ allows you to easily manage these catalogs and their content? For example, you can create a new catalog containing all your favorite symbols, collecting symbols from different styles and even map types into one catalog. In this article, I’ll guide you trough making such a custom catalog; for this example, I’ll be making a catalog that collects all the statue symbols from the various dungeon styles I have available to me. I often use statues as dungeon/floorplan dressing, and it would be great to have all of these available in one place. This catalog will mix symbols from different styles, so not every symbol in this catalog will work in every map obviously, but you can often mix symbols from different styles with great success.

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